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Microsoft munches super startup carcass

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Microsoft has eaten the carcass of Interactive Supercomputing, a creator of HPC development tools for parallelizing applications.

That's yet another promising supercomputing startup that has succumbed to the economic Meltdown and the difficulty of finding capital to fund its expansion. Redmond has acquired the company's the intellectual property and key employees.

Kyril Faenov, general manager of high performance and parallel computing technologies within Microsoft's Windows Server Division, made the announcement of the ISC acquisition on the division's blog. The financial details of the asset acquisition were not disclosed, but it is clear that Microsoft is not buying the whole company and it's not assuming whatever debts and obligations the privately held ISC had.

"This move represents our ongoing commitment to parallel computing and high performance computing (HPC) and will bring together complementary technologies that will help simplify the complexity and difficulty of expressing problems that can be parallelized," wrote Faenov in the blog.

"ISC's products and technology enable faster prototyping, iteration, and deployment of large-scale parallel solutions, which is well aligned with our vision of making high performance computing and parallel computing easier, both on the desktop and in the cluster."

Microsoft has been on a mission for the past two years to become a player in the HPC space, and it seems poised to grow its share of the HPC market by getting a hot at greenfield personal, departmental, and midrange supercomputers among researchers who do not have experience with Unix or Linux systems, who have for the most part work with Windows workstations, and who would prefer to stick with a Windows platform as they grow their applications.

Windows HPC Server 2008, Microsoft's second real pass at delivering a parallel clustering stack for Windows boxes, is an attempt to not only mimic the early success that the Linux platform had a decade ago with Beowulf clustering - and thereby putting Linux on the map as far as corporations and governments were concerned - but also to take away some of the HPC thunder of the Linux platform, which has usurped the dominant position in HPC that Unix once had.

ISC created a programming environment called Star-P, which allowed researchers to use familiar software packages such as MatLab or programming languages such as Python to develop their applications on a desktop machine and then have it automatically parallelized to run on a cluster of boxes.

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